The Heisman Trophy race is always part talent show, part popularity contest—with big-name favorites, middle-of-the-pack players who need some breaks, and lower-profile guys who put up big numbers. Ivan Maisel sizes up the 2002 season's early candidates.
REX GROSSMAN, QB, Florida, Jr.
It's been 20 years since a Heisman runner-up came back the next season and won the trophy. Grossman has a chance to duplicate Herschel Walker's feat because he throws the deep ball better than anyone else.
KEN DORSEY, QB, Miami, Sr.
He has the quickest release in the game and the quickest brain as well. Still, at times, a winning quarterback has never looked so ungainly.
CHRIS RIX, QB, Florida State, Soph.
Rix had 3,123 yard of total offense as a freshman last year. With experience, healthy receivers and a veteran line he'll take the Seminolesa long way.
CHRIS SIMMS, QB, Texas, Sr.
Famous son. Lone Star State. All legacy, no substance, say detractors. Hey, it worked for Dubya.
ELI MANNINC, QB, Ole Miss, Jr.
Dad Archie's no-Heisman-campaign edict won't have as big an impact on Eli's trophy chances as the Rebels' suspect defense will. Ole Miss may not win enough to give him a shot.
ONTERRIO SMITH, TB, Oregon, Jr.
The fast, punishing Tennessee transfer will get enough carries to solve the lack of name recognition. But the last Pac-10 player to win the Heisman was Marcus Allen in 1981.
JASON GESSER, QB, Washington State, Sr.
Good arm, good feet and, as he proved in last year's 10-2 campaign, he can win. A big game and a victory at Ohio State on Sept. 14 will bring him national attention.